Lately, there seem to have been so many public mass shootings that the most recent one could be the cover story on every single issue of this magazine. We obviously can’t do that. What’s more, the stories are all roughly the same. The terrorist uses a weapon of war to kill and injure dozens, and emergency departments are put to the test. Heroes are lauded for their acts, which should never have been necessary in the first place. Could there be anything more nauseating than the fact that we have become collectively “bored” by these events? The news cycles are getting shorter because, frankly, we’ve grown accustomed to mass shootings.
When these catastrophes occur, though, it must spur some action. Inaction is the embodiment of cowardice and is not who we are. It seems unfathomable that, as of last fall, there was any doubt as to whether firearm safety was “in our lane” as emergency physicians. We know it is. ACEP’s long-standing policy on “Firearm Safety and Injury Prevention,” was last revised in 2013 and embodies many sensible measures. The policy, printed below, takes a “yes, and” approach, rather than a “no, but” one.
Below is a summary of some of ACEP’s statements, and our ongoing efforts in this arena. Some revisions and additions are being made as I write this. Know about them and get involved.
—Jeremy Samuel Faust, MD, MS, MA,
Medical Editor in Chief of ACEP Now
ACEP abhors the current level of intentional and accidental firearm injuries and finds that it poses a threat to the health and safety of the public.
ACEP supports legislative, regulatory, and public health efforts that:
- Encourage the change of societal norms that glorify a culture of violence to one of social civility
- Investigate the effect of socioeconomic and other cultural risk factors on firearm injury and provide public and private funding for firearm safety and injury prevention research
- Create a confidential national firearm injury research registry while encouraging states to establish a uniform approach to tracking and recording firearm related injuries
- Promote access to effective, affordable, and sustainable mental health services
- Protect the duty of physicians and encourage health care provider discussions with patients on firearm safety
- Promote the development of technology that increases firearm safety
- Support universal background checks for firearm transactions
- Require the enforcement of existing laws and support new legislation that prevents high-risk and prohibited individuals from obtaining firearms by any means
- Restrict the sale and ownership of weapons, munitions, and large-capacity magazines that are designed for military or law enforcement use
Update on ACEP Firearm SAFETY Initiatives
In response to the mass shootings in July, ACEP President Vidor Friedman, MD, FACEP, provided the ACEP membership with an update on ACEP’s firearm safety initiatives, including:
- Per a 2018 Council resolution, the Public Health & Injury Prevention Committee is considering updates to the Firearm Safety and Injury Prevention statement and will send its recommendations to the Board for review in September.
- The Emergency Medicine Foundation has partnered on research grants and ACEP made a contribution to the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine (AFFIRM), a nonprofit organization founded and led by emergency physicians working to end the epidemic of gun violence through research, innovation, and evidence-based practice.
- ACEP’s High Threat Casualty EMS Subcommittee recommended several action items that the Board will be considering.
Several key initiatives will be discussed or debuted at ACEP19 in Denver:
- A resolution has been submitted to the Council for consideration that will be discussed at the Council Meeting Oct. 25–26.
- The results of our Council Survey about a variety of policy positions related to gun injury prevention will be available by the Council Meeting.
- “Until Help Arrives,” our training program designed to help emergency physicians provide basic first-responder training in their communities, will launch at ACEP19.
- ACEP will host a preconference course on assessing threat and identifying patients at risk for causing harm entitled “Care Under Fire: EDs, Gun Violence, and Threat Assessment.”
Find all of ACEP’s active shooter resources, including policy statements, podcasts, and more.